ROCHESTER – Individuals started lining up an hour earlier than the 11:30 begin of a what was billed as a “big, free, buying day” for Seacoast residents in want.
Organizations, native companies, metropolis workers and different volunteers have been available to assist space houseless residents with a special occasion of caring occasion Saturday, held within the car parking zone behind the Rochester Neighborhood Middle.
The occasion included 100 lunches from Mitchell Hill BBQ, free skilled haircuts, 150 stuffed back-to-school backpacks, 40 youngster and grownup bicycles, and helmets, toys and video games, heat clothes, sleeping baggage and a meals pantry that included contemporary produce, bread, canned items and different staples.
Kodie Adams, 12, of Rochester bought a bicycle.
“We have now been on the lookout for a bicycle for him,” mentioned Tina Adams, Kodie’s mother. “They’re simply so costly.”
“Proper now, we actually want to come back collectively round these folks as a result of it’s the correct factor for them,” mentioned Stacy Bergeron, founding father of Packing containers of Love for the Homeless, the Candia-based entity organizing Saturday’s occasion. “We’re within the midst of a pandemic, however the want is all the time right here. That is the primary such occasion we held in Rochester and we’ve dedicated to a yr of help. We hope to create systemic change. Everybody right here, together with myself is a volunteer. Nobody attracts a paycheck for Packing containers of Love for the Homeless.”
Bergeron mentioned houselessness, meals insecurity and different points have been on the rise on the Seacoast, and in Rochester particularly, earlier than the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Anybody who has a necessity is welcome right here,” Bergeron mentioned. “We don’t discriminate in any method. We maintain these popup occasions throughout the state and we’ll preserve doing so. We have now individuals who awoke this morning in a tent, but they got here right here at this time to volunteer.”
Diane G. is without doubt one of the homeless who got here to volunteer. “I used to be married for 25 years, and was effectively taken care of, till I wasn’t,” she mentioned. “I couldn’t perform, and I bumped into authorized issues and ended up with a ‘bracelet.’ I owe the state cash now and I will pay it off by volunteering at nonprofit occasions. It’s not the one cause I do it, although. It makes me really feel good, makes me really feel helpful and I like that I’m serving to different folks.”
Bergeron mentioned turning a blind eye will solely improve the general hazard the neighborhood faces in the course of the pandemic as a result of truth houseless populations have restricted entry to non-public protecting tools and sanitization services.
Packing containers of Love for the Homeless is a wholly volunteer-run nonprofit group The group heightened its deal with Rochester not too long ago as a result of diploma of want throughout the metropolis and the encircling areas. Bergeron mentioned they’ve dedicated to giving Rochester space residents a yr of their time to assist get folks again on their ft.
Attendees obtained a lot from the Rochester SHARE Fund’s meals pantry and thrift retailer, as effectively vouchers for future use on the pantry and retailer.
Space musicians Yamica Peterson-Cain, Kemar McCarthy and Garth Streete carried out throughout Saturday’s occasion.
“I can see how blessed we’re to have an occasion like this,” mentioned Streete, who got here right here from Jamaica. “Our hearts are so full simply being right here that we are going to do it every time they ask.”
Face masks have been required for Saturday’s occasion, as was compliance with social distancing suggestions.
Different entities and people contributing to the occasion included Cross Level Church, Rochester Police Division Neighborhood Engagement Officer Kyle Danie, Rochester Public Works Division, and quite a few neighborhood members who donated meals and different objects.
The hope, Bergeron mentioned, is the occasion will assist join attendees with sources, in addition to assist strengthen connections between all the completely different teams working regionally to supply sources.
Extra details about Packing containers of Love for the Homeless, Saturday’s occasion and the opposite occasions and sources the nonprofit is engaged on might be discovered at boxesofloveforthehomeless.com and on its Fb web page.